How did we launch?

When like-minded people come together, great ideas are born.


Creating Connection

Like many great ideas, this one was born when a group of like-minded people sat around a table drinking some of our favorite local craft beer. We wondered why there wasn’t a way to easily connect local founders with mentors and resources that could help them. As we got curious, there was collaboration. There was laughter. There was problem solving. And LaunchLKN (the OG) was born.


We started as LaunchLKN with one main goal: get talented entrepreneurs, mentors, educators, and community leaders from the Lake Norman area in one place and see what happens. We believed there was an eager community looking for opportunities to share knowledge and advance entrepreneurial success in our own backyard. We held six events (beer included!) … and we listened. Our hypothesis proved true and our people were now helping us define how we should grow.


We continued our networking events and added an educational event series we named Infinite Possibilities. We explored all kinds of emerging tech topics — think blockchain, smart cities, cybersecurity, AR/VR — and pulled in local entrepreneurs, academics, and experts to help us learn more. This series continues today, and we’ve uncovered so many innovative people doing mind-blowing work in our community. In 2018, we also launched our partnership with the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Davidson College.


Our events continued, our community grew. We had a home at the Hurt Hub and our collaboration deepened. We could regularly engage with area entrepreneurs working under one roof. We designed and launched what has become our anchor program — the mentor program — a core initiative of ours since the early days.


Quite a year for all of us, wouldn’t you say? We missed seeing our community in person. Virtual environments didn’t lend themselves to the random idea exchange or collaboration. But we (collectively) survived. And, the one thing that does happen during any big global shift — new challenges need to be solved. And who better to solve them than entrepreneurs!


New founders continued to apply for mentorship and our reach expanded beyond Lake Norman due to virtual engagements. As people reevaluated why and how they wanted to work, many decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship. We added First Turn Innovations as a partner and launched the FTI Fund dedicated to investing in FTI inventors. Our mentor group also continued to grow, word spreading that there was an opportunity to share expertise and learn about the creative ideas coming from our market.


The first thing we teach entrepreneurs is to embrace change. Nothing will ever stay the same and you’ll pivot many times along the way. We took our own advice, embracing the opportunity to integrate our mentor program with the former Innovate Charlotte Venture Mentoring Service to create a main go-to mentoring source for the greater Charlotte community. We also began raising the Charlotte Fund, a venture capital fund that will invest in the Charlotte region. We made the big decision to evolve from LaunchLKN to LaunchCLT to highlight our expanded reach. We’ve learned. We’ve grown. We’ve changed. But … we still like craft beer!

Interested in being part of our next chapter?

Let’s talk about how we can collaborate.